Inventor, Artist. He is best known for inventing the modern magnetic telegraph. Born at Charlestown, Massachusetts, he was the eldest son of a Congregationalist pastor who wrote a series of widely used geography textbooks. He was raised in Massachusetts and later went to Yale College where he majored in chemistry and natural philosophy. Graduating from Yale in 1810, in 1811 he traveled to England to study art under Washington Allston and Benjamin West, where he gained considerable reputation as a portrait painter. In 1813, he received the gold medal of the Adelphi Society of Arts for his first effort in sculpture, the "Dying Hercules." Returning to New York, he founded the National Academy of Design and became its first president, and was appointed Professor of the Arts of Design in the University of the City of New York. He did not give his entire attention to art, but was also interested in chemistry, and especially in electrical and galvanic experiments; and on a voyage from Havre to New York, in 1832, he conceived the idea of a magnetic telegraph, which he patented and exhibited to Congress in 1837. He struggled on with scanty means until 1843, when, as he had almost yielded to despair, Congress appropriated thirty thousand dollars for an experimental line between Washington and Baltimore. On May 24, 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first electronic message, "What hath God wrought." For his telegraphic inventions, Morse was rewarded by testimonials, honors, orders of nobility and wealth. Several European states joined in presenting him a purse of four hundred thousand francs, and banquets were given him in London and Paris. Morse died in New York City, New York at the age of eighty-one.
Bio by: Edward Parsons